Western Herbal Medicine

Plants have always been indispensable to human beings. They provide us with food, shelter, medicine, clothing, tools, ritual objects, and so on. Everywhere people live there are countless plants that may be used to heal ailments both small and large. For most of human history, all cultures used medicinal plants for healing. Although herbal medicine was suppressed in Europe and much of North America for several hundred years, the knowledge of Western herbalism was not lost, and is now enjoying a renaissance.

Meanwhile, herbal medicine has continued to flourish uninterrupted for thousands of years in indigenous cultures all over the world, and in the systems of Ayurvedic and classical Chinese medicine, to name a couple of specific examples.

Usually we know herbs are useful based on the evidence of many thousands of years of use. More recently, biomedical laboratory research is showing their effectiveness.
Herbal medicine may be taken in many forms. Watershed Naturopathic practitioners create custom formulas for patients, based on their specific concerns and conditions. They often use herbs in tincture form, because it is a potent and convenient method for patients. Tinctures are made by extracting the medicinal constituents from fresh or dried plant material by steeping it in alcohol for many weeks. This is an excellent method of extracting and preserving herbal medicine.

Some of the other forms that may be used include herbal teas, salves, syrups, compresses, washes, or baths. Sometimes, practitioners prescribes encapsulated herbs-  because they’re palatable and easy for patients to take, and because there are some great encapsulated formulas out there. Sometimes, if it’s a good fit for a patient, they will offer instruction on how to  wildcraft or grow, and prepare their own medicines.

Herbal medicine can be beneficial for all manner of health conditions including: colds, flus, coughs, sore throats, sinusitis, viral and bacterial infections including UTI and ear infections, allergies, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression, insomnia, hormonal imbalances, gynecologic problems, skin problems, and all types of pain.

Many herbs are safe to take with other medications, and a knowledgeable practitioner can safely prescribe herbs for pregnant or breast-feeding women, and for children.

Written by Watershed Team

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